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Hair Breakage: Causes, Repair and Prevention

Breakage! The hair’s worst enemy. Impossible to avoid, being that every little thing can lead to it. Breakage does not care about hair type or porosity level. Luckily, in most cases, hair breakage can be repaired and restore its strength with the proper handling and hair regimen.

In this article, we will talk about what breakage is, the most common causes and ways to prevent future breakage.

What is breakage?

First, let’s understand what we are dealing with.

Hair breakage and shedding are not one and the same. However, some still seem to use it interchangeably. It is important to understand the difference between the two.

Shedding is part of our natural hair cycle. These strands can have a little white bulb at the tip, showing that it came directly from the scalp. Studies have shown that a healthy head of hair can shed 50-100 strands a day. There is no need to worry about shedding unless you notice a consistent loss of a significant amount daily. This can be connected to some type of medical or hormonal condition and you should consult with your doctor.

Breakage, on the other hand, happens when your individual strands start to split. Most times, you will notice that these particular strands are fragments and shorter pieces falling from your hair. The hair cuticles are made of layers and when the hair fiber splits from the rest, this is breakage. Having breakage is unavoidable. However, excessive breakage is why some may think their hair is growing. Your hair is always growing. In this case, it’s breaking at the same rate. Easily spotted with its tree-like appearance, make sure to severe those ties immediately.

Common Causes of Breakage

1. Heat damage. Frequently using heat on the hair causes damage to the hair shaft. Hair tools such as, blow dryer, flat iron and curling irons remove moisture from the hair, leaving it dry and brittle. Hot weather and humid climates can also dry the hair out without the proper protection.

2. Hair Products. Perming, coloring, relaxing and various treatments similar contain harsh chemicals that weaken the hair. Studies have shown that the acidity and pH levels in various shampoos can affect hair breakage.

3. Towel Drying. The friction of wet hair against a towel is prime grounds for frizz and breakage. Wet hair is vulnerable and breaks more easily.

4. Over Brushing. Brushing the hair too much and with the wrong tool can cause extreme breakage. Remember your hair is unique and may not be able to use the same tool that works for someone else. For us curly girls NEVER use a fine-tooth comb for detangling. Always be patient and gentle when brushing, combing and detangling your hair.

5. Stress! Be careful with this one because it can provoke eczema. When stressed the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases inflammation throughout the body that can lead to skin inflammation and an eczema flare up. Extreme stress can lead to a condition called telogen effluvium. The stress pushes a large number of hair follicles into a resting phase before they were meant to causing the hairs to eventually come loose from the scalp.

6. Hairstyles. Manipulating the hair aggressively and regularly can cause extreme breakage. Ponytails, buns, cornrows, braids and wigs can all be dangerous territory if not done correctly. Many styles use elastic ties, which can pull tightly on the hair, increasing the risk of breakage. Tight hairstyles can stretch and break the hair from the root. Be gentle when styling your hair. Even your protective style won’t protect your hair from careless handling.

7. Proper Diet. Nutrition plays a major role in promoting healthy hair. Without consuming a balanced diet, the hair can become weak and appear dull, dry or brittle. Severe nutrient deficiency can lead to hair loss. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D, vitamin B7, zinc and iron are essential for healthy hair growth.

How to fix breakage?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Regardless of what some companies may advertise, the hard truth is once you have breakage, you must cut it off. Once you understand what led you there, you can easily correct it the next time around.


1. Be Gentle. Whether you are putting in or taking down a protective style or detangling, be patient. * We suggest finger detangling prior to running through your hair with a comb.

2. Deep condition/ Moisturize. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Every time you wash, it is important to deep condition. This step can minimize breakage by feeding your hair the necessary nutrients. Especially important for my curly girls because our hair is prone to becoming brittle and breaking.

3. Regular Trims. The ends are the eldest parts of our hair and deserve some TLC. Get a trim when necessary. How often is different for each unique individual. We don’t want the split ends traveling up the hair shaft and breaking at the root. Be sure to nourish and seal your ends so that you can retain length.

4. Microfiber towel. Invest in a microfiber towel for wash days. It will help prevent frizz and damage to the hair. If you are on a strict budget, we understand, try drying with and old t-shirt.

5. Satin pillowcase or bonnet. Protect your tresses at night. With all of the tossing and turning we do in our sleep, our cotton pillowcases are absorbing the moisture from our hair while causing frizz and weakening the strands. Using a satin pillowcase or bonnet will help keep the moisture locked in and frizz-free.

6. Limit the use of heat. Well this should be a given. However, if you must use heat make sure to apply a heat protectant prior.

7. Reduce the use of coloring, perming, etc. If you feel that you must use strong chemicals in your hair be sure to go to a reputable hair stylist that focuses on hair health.

8. Hairstyling. Try loose styles to relieve pressure on the hair.

9. Yoga. For my stressed-out friends, try some yoga or meditation. If that’s not your thing, fair enough. Try to find a hobby that you can focus on and release some energy.

10. Product. Find products that work for you and gives your hair what it needs. Remember, it can be a process.

11. Eating a balanced diet. Ensure that the hair is getting all the nutrients it needs.

We hope you found this helpful and would love to hear some of the tips you use to prevent breakage.

- The Good Heir Journey


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